Wanted to share with you my funny little piece of flash fiction I typed with no plan last August. It was during that phase when the Black and White photo challenge was doing the rounds on FB … I took a photo of some maize on our farm (which I’ve since deleted so today borrowed from shutterstock for illustration purposes) and rather than merely post the photo on its own, I wrote a few words which randomly popped into my head as I stared at said photo…
A rustling noise made me glance towards the high stems of maize, expecting to see a dog or perhaps a deer but there was nothing. Nothing behind me, or to the side and definitely nothing in front.
I took this short cut through the maize plantations to the cottage on the edge of the wood daily now, as it saved me walking miles round on the track. The farmer had said I could; it had felt wrong to assume so I’d asked a few weeks before.
As I opened the rusty latch her voice filtered down the hallway from the old drawing room.
“Is that you?”
Who else would it be for goodness sake… “Yes Maud, I’ve brought your favourite today”
The surface in the kitchen was exactly as I’d left it the day before, even the teaspoon had not found its way from the draining board to the sink. She can’t have moved from that chair I thought. Maud’s voice sounded frail again as she announced her intention
“I’ve got the next photo all ready to show you. You look really very young.”
“I’ll just serve this up and bring it through Maud!”
Fourteen days I’d been coming now and fourteen parts to a story I’d been told by Maud. A story of long ago.
* * *
Maud did not appear to notice the bit of food nestled at the corner of her mouth and I tried hard not to focus on it as we talked.
“So this is me sat next to who was it .. your sister?” I pointed to an elderly lady wearing a black coat and hat who stared straight out of the photograph, as if she could see something behind me.
“Yes, she was much older than me. Brought me up after mother disappeared. I was wary of her always and hated that coat. She never took it off you know; summer or winter!”
Maud finished her meal and dabbed at her mouth with the napkin I had provided alongside the buttered bread and patè. The piece of food was gone.
“Did they ever find your mother?” I was intrigued but regretted the question the second it passed my lips.
“No. No-one cared in those days if someone went missing. It was always assumed the lost soul had wanted to be alone. Police had other crimes to watch over; not like these days where your modern computers can trace everyone.” Maud nodded at my involuntary surprised expression. How could this old lady who’d not moved from this house for years and who had no modern means of communication know about today’s world? I felt a shiver run through me and stood to take the plates away as a means of distraction.
This random piece grew, Day by Day for the 7 days of the challenge. My FB friends (well, two of them) raved about Maud’s tale.
It then became the base for my book!!
My first few chapters are quite different from what you read above. I now write about Lucy in the third person for a start, and I took out all the references to photographs because as a novel, I needed something deeper. A mystery that would bind Lucy to Maud, even after the latter’s sad passing …..